Presentation on theme: "Planning Commission Training"— Presentation transcript:
1 Planning Commission Training Municipality of SkagwayWelcome to the planning commission and community planning.Although developing a comprehensive understanding of the planning field would require years of study and experience, this presentation will deal with what you specifically need to know to competently complete your responsibilities as planning commissioners or persons responsible for community development.Introduce Peter:Introduce Nicole:Introduce Commissioners – Name and Years on CommissionPlanning Commission MembersHistoric District Commission MembersWhy are you on the Planning and/or Historic District Commission?What do you want out of this training?Set Context: Informal, question/discussion at any time, agenda, handbook.Division of Community and Regional Affairs • Peter McKay • Nicole Grewe • April 17, 2009
2 Alaska Planning Commission Handbook: Basis of Planning Commission TrainingWritten in plain language to provide pointers and warn about pitfalls.Handbook - Three Major Aspects of Planning:Land use regulation and plattingThe discipline and practice of planningThe legal context for planning decisionsThroughout course of tonight:Summarize important points contained within HandbookApply to your planning and land use code and proceduresProvide opportunity for open discussionRough Agenda:Planning Commission DescribedDecision-MakingLegal Aspects of ConductPlan Implementation
3 Community BenefitsPlanning benefits communities in the following ways:Shapes the futureIdentifies local issuesIdentifies public valuesTies programs togetherPromotes public involvementAttracts appropriate developmentIncreases certaintyProtects natural resourcesImproves public service efficiencyMinimizes land use conflictsPromotes good designWhat is your purpose?Where has your community come from and where is it going?What is the purpose of planning in your community?Guide the futureImprove quality of lifeThese are ideological reasons to plan, but practical reasons to plan are…What does planning yield for your community?Next Slide
4 Planning Characteristics Creates order and predictabilityPromotes efficient use of resourcesIdentifies alternatives and proceduresPromotes community health and future viabilityCreates Order and Predictability:Land use plan guides development policies and public investment in infrastructures.Coastal management plan prioritizes coastal use.City budget forecasts revenue collection and spending.Promotes Efficient Use of Resources:Locates new developments near existing utilities.Anticipates problems before they become crises.Coordinates and schedules capital improvements.Reserves scarce waterfront for water-dependent resources.Identifies Alternatives and Procedures:Evaluates, accepts, rejects courses of action.Identifies steps that lead to plan realization.Combines vision with community needs.Promotes Community Health and Future Viability:Inventories resources and analyzes planning alternatives.Community actively meets old goals and identifies new goals.Improved community leadership through knowledge, critical analysis, problem-solving.
5 THE PLANNING COMMISSION Welcome to the Planning Commission!AK Planning Commission Handbook Focus:Discipline and Practice of Planning – planning purpose, problem-solving tools, other “how to” aspects.Legal Context for Planning Decisions – constitutional, statutory, and ordinanceprovisions that limit or guide PC actions.Land use Regulation and Platting – most frequently encountered planning activity.Tonight’s Objectives:1. Planning Practice2. Legal Context3. Land Use RegulationWhy are you here?What do you want out of this training?
6 What is a Planning Commission? Is an advisory group to the governing body on issues and activities related to planning, platting, land use regulation, and community development.Has limited decision making power, but can have considerable influence.Is responsible for keeping planning and land use related issues in perspective for the community.Planning Commission:Is a body of citizens that serve the local government.An advisory group to the governing body on issues and activities related toplanning, platting, and land use regulation and community development in generalAdvisory – Planning, platting, land use regulation, and community developmentWhich municipal body has the final say in planning matters?Planning commission is mostly advisory.Who is the final planning authority?PC only advises the governing body regarding planning issues. They makerecommendations to the council, which the council, approves, rejects, or amends.Additional Notes:Assembly liaison attends PC meetings.PC has strong influence, but not final decision makers on most items.Assembly Recommendation – Don’t override too often, alienates volunteers.
7 Welcome to the Planning Commission An Effective Planning Commissioner Knows:Planning commission authority and dutiesHow a planning commission operatesStandards for commission decision-makingLegal aspects of commission conductComprehensive and other types of planningZoning, platting, and land-use regulationCommissioner Questions:What were your expectations when you accepted your appointment?Why did you volunteer for the planning commission?Key Planning Commission Responsibilities:Know community, geography, character – transportation routes, major industries,natural features, environmentally sensitive areas, and growth locations.Know local regulations and required procedures – zoning, subdivision ordinances.Know partners – governing body, staff, and business leaders.Know meeting agenda – prepare for meetingsAdditional Responsibilities:Considerate of public and fellow commissioners.Know legal obligation.Honor that planning “sets ground rules” for the public – and enforce.
8 Planning Commission Authority AS and local charters or ordinances define the authority and responsibilities of commission members.Commission duties vary from community to community depending on factors including support for planning, community growth rate, prospective infrastructure development, and responsibilities prescribed by ordinance.Alaska State Law Requires:Boroughs, Unified Municipalities, Home Rule Cities, and 1st Class Cities OUTSIDE boroughs provide planning, platting, and land use regulation.Prepare Comprehensive Plan for Assembly/Council Adoption (Plan)Can’t enforce land use regulation without Comprehensive Plan (Action Tools)2nd Class Cities may, but are not required to exercise planning powers.DNR is platting authority for areas located outside a municipality with PZ powers – or within the Unorganized Boroughs.State statutes governing local planning are dependent on “classification”.Other duties as prescribed by local ordinance.AK Local Government Primer:Municipal Government = Borough (1, 2, HR, U) and City (1, 2, HR)Home Rule (Charter) versus General Law (T29):GL (1st Cities, 2nd Cities, 1st Boroughs, 2nd Boroughs) – Must comply with all relevant AS provisions.HR (Cities and Boroughs with a Charter) – Many AS T29 provisions do not apply. Example: Variance standards custom to HR municipalities.Cities Inside versus Outside Borough:Borough PZ on areawide basis (inside and outside cities), but may delegate any PZ powers that are governed by AS T29.
9 Planning Commission Authority (continued) Prepare and submit to the assembly (city council) a proposed comprehensive plan in accordance with AS for the systematic and organized development of the borough (or city).Review, recommend, and administer measures necessary to implement the comprehensive plan including measures provided under ASOther duties as prescribed by local ordinance.Alaska State Law Requires:Boroughs, Unified Municipalities, Home Rule Cities, and 1st Class Cities outsideboroughs provide planning, platting, and land use regulation.Prepare Comprehensive Plan for Assembly/Council AdoptionCan’t enforce land use regulation without Comprehensive PlanDNR is platting authority for areas located outside a municipality with PZ powers.Other duties as prescribed by local ordinance.
10 Planning Commission Duties Prepare a comprehensive planAct as the platting authorityReview and recommend land use regulationsReview and recommend property rezonesAct on variances and conditional use permitsReview land acquisitions and disposalsHear appeals from administrative decisionsReview and recommend capital improvementsPrepare a Comprehensive Plan – a CD policy statement . A blueprint for making land-use and development decisions. Long-term up to 20 – 30 years.Act as Platting Authority – reviews and approves subdivisions, minor or short plats, replats, dedications, and right of ways, and easements.Review and Recommend Land Use Regulation – land use regulations are a method of comprehensive plan implementation.Review and Recommend the Rezone of Property – reviews and recommends to city council or assembly, which has final decision. Rezones are approved by ordinance and occur as amendments to the official zoning map.Act on Variances and Conditional Use Permits – authority to approve or denyReview and Advise on Land Acquisition and Disposal – entitlements under ANCSAHear Appeals from Administrative Decisions – T29 authorizes the establishment of “Board or Adjustment” to hear appeals regarding land use regulation application. Council, assembly, or commission may be authorized to hear appeals.Review and Recommend Capital Improvements – commission understands comprehensive plan best and will best understand how proposed capital improvements fit in with the comprehensive plan.
11 Planning Commission Duties (continued) Review annual planning budgetApprove planning department’s annual work programInitiate planning projectsCoordinate with other agencies’ plansConduct public meetings and hearingsOther duties as authorized by ordinanceReview the Annual Planning BudgetPlanning Department’s Annual Work Program – Review and recommend.Initiate Planning ProjectsCoordinate with Other Agencies’ PlansConduct Public Meetings and Hearings – Most important!Other Duties as Authorized by OrdinanceMost Important – Public MeetingsAction Items – Variances, CUP, AUP, Platting Authority.Remember your ethical obligations:Involve the publicBe objectiveShape Skagway’s futureBe willing to workBe a responsible commissioner
12 Municipality of Skagway: Planning Commission Duties Prepare and recommend:A comprehensive planA zoning ordinanceA subdivision ordinanceThe official map of the cityAct as the platting boardAct upon requests for variances and conditional usesServe as the zoning commissionHold a regular monthly meeting, open to the publicWhat does it look like here, in Skagway?Municipality of Skagway (First Class Borough):“GL” Borough – must comply with all provisions of state statutes (AS T29).As Applied to Planning: AS – details variance standards.Generally Stated:Comprehensive PlanLand Use RegulationResearch/ReportSkagway Specifics:Prepare/Recommend – comp plan, zoning ordinance, subdivision ordinance, and map.Conduct public meetings – post notices.Shall Act As – platting board, variances, and conditional uses.Requests need a majority vote to pass.Appointed as zoning commission.Conduct meetings – rules, procedures, formal acts via resolution, record meetings,certain types of development require PC approval.Funds generated by PC are part of GF.Compensation of PC Members – at Assembly approval.
13 Characteristics of an “Ideal” Planning Commission BalancedSkilledUnderstands communityUnderstands public processCommitted to planningMaintains objectivityDeclared conflict of interestsBalanced special interestsCharacteristics of an “Ideal” Planning Commission:BalancedSkilledUnderstands communityUnderstands public processCommitted to PlanningMaintains ObjectivityDeclared conflict of interestsBalanced special interestsSmall Town Issues:No conflict of interest impossibleNo special interest impossibleYour “special” interest should be doing the most good for your community.The most good for the most people!Balanced – All interests of community represented in commission.Age, gender, race, short-time resident, long-time residentJuneau as Example – 9 Members – Private vs. Public
14 HOW A PLANNING COMMISSION OPERATES Nuts-n-Bolts part of workshop.
15 Planning Commission Roles It is [or should be] a panel with knowledge of community character, local regulations, and community development practice.Advisory Role - Advises the council or assembly.Regulatory Role - Administers local land use regulations including zoning and subdivision ordinances.Procedural Role - Conducts fair meetings and makes fair decisions.Planning Commission’s Three Roles:Advisory – “Keeper of Plan” – Comprehensive Plan and implementation ordinances.Prepare, review, and approved Comprehensive Plan and ordinances. Work withthe public, governing body, and staff.Regulatory – Administers the local land use regulations (zoning and subdivision).Procedural – Running a fair meeting, making fair decisions, and conducting itself.The most important role – legal challenges stem from procedural violations.Contributor to community welfare and responsible for improving the QOL.Key Planning Commission Responsibilities:Know Community – geography, character, growth, transportation, landscapeKnow Regulations and Procedures – comp plan, land use code, other plansKnow Partners – assembly, staff, planning directorKnow the Agenda – topics, facts, questions
16 The Commission’s Relationship with Elected Officials The most important aspect of the relationship between the planning commission and the governing body is the is the planning commission’s advisory role.The council or assembly has the authority to approve, deny, or change commission recommendations.A commission that has a good working relationship with the council can play a key role in keeping the council informed and educated about planning and community development issues.Elected Body and PC – PC recommends to Elected Officials, which approves or declines.What does this mean to you? Your efforts will be wasted unless...Develop a good relationship with the council to avoid conflict:Council should rely on PC for planning guidance.PC removes planning burden from the city councilCapture respect of councilMake sound decisions based on facts.Communicate with the city councilTop 10 ways to improve relationship:Understand responsibilities of PC and Governing Body.Made sound decisions based on findings – support your decision!Attend council meetings when an appeal is considered.Ask for clarification of council policy or actions that are unclear.Include PC minutes any points that were not obvious in decisions or findings.Request joint work session with council to discuss priorities, communications, etc.Get acquainted to political platforms for elected officials.Enlist media for help to clarify PC opinions.Do not rely solely on staff to convey your message to public council.Annual self-evaluation and follow through with needed changes.
17 The Commission’s Relationship with Planning Staff Planning staff play a critical role in the planning process and effectiveness of the planning commission.Administers land use regulationPrepares reports and posts meeting noticesResearches planning and land use issuesAdvises commissionEducates and assists the publicKnows and interprets laws and ordinancesConducts community and capital projects planningNegotiates – agencies, developers, and publicEnforces code and conditions of approvalProvides continuityPlanning Staff: Critical role in planning process and effectiveness of planning commission.Planning Staff Job Description:Administers the land use regulations – zoning and subdivision ordinances.Prepares staff reports and notices for meetings.Researches planning, land use, and development issues.Advises and assists the planning commission.Educates and assists the public.Knows and interprets the laws and ordinances.Conducts community and capital project planning.Negotiates, facilitates, and coordinates between agencies, developers, and public.Enforces municipal code and conditions of approval stipulated by planning commission.Provides continuity over time – policy, documents, and people.Not a Decision Maker:Know Governing Body and Planning Commission politics.Pick your battles – three strikes you are out!Most noble and difficult element of job if continuity over time.Professional Training:Perform research, public presentations, meet with public, interpret plans, municipal ordinances, and other planning landmark laws.
18 The Commission’s Relationship with Public Public involvement gives the commission opportunity to educate, build support, and encourage ownership.Improves trust in government.Taps local knowledge and talent.Creates sense of ownership in plan and regulations.Creates a constituency in planning.Ensures plan remains intact over time.Increases overall plan quality.Improves enforcement of land use lawsStreamlines planning process and development.Public Involvement – Opportunity to educate, build support, and encourage ownership.Public Participation Benefits:Improves trust in government.Taps local knowledge and talent.Creates sense of ownership in plan and regulations..Creates a constituency in planning.Ensures plan remains intact over time.Increases overall plan quality.Improves enforcement of land use laws.Streamlines planning process and development.Public involvement Techniques:Visioning and focus groupsPublic meetingsOpen housesFacilitated discussionsJoint meetings with council, assembly, local corporationsNewsletters and other MediaSurveysMost Important Relationship – Potential consequences if threatened or adversarial.
19 Practical Advice for Commissioners Read packet before meetingSeek staff assistance before meetingKnow comprehensive plan and zoning/platting codesBe familiar with sites and projectsShare informationFocus on facts, not opinionsSummarize what you have heardParticipate in discussionBe practicalBe a problem-solver, not a problem-makerBe probing, but not argumentativeRespect your associatesTreat everyone equallyAttend meetingsCome on time to meetingsMaintain a positive relationship will all entities.Four-Way Relationship:Planning CommissionAssemblyStaffPublic
20 Do not fight with the city council, assembly, or each other!
21 PLANNING COMMISSION DECISION-MAKING Tonight’s Workshop:We are going through a lot of material, but we need to accomplish 2 objectives.What Not To Do – ethics and legal matters.What To Do – or, how to make and document a decisionThis section details PC decision-making processes.Generally, how does the Skagway PC make decisions?What are examples of recent decisions?
22 How Does the Planning Commission Make Decisions? Using common senseThinking about what is in the best interest of the larger communityConsidering the rulesUsing persuasion or arguments based on testimonyInterpreting the comprehensive plan in accordance with legal requirementsHow does the Planning Commission make decisions?Use common senseThinking about what is in the best interest of the larger communityConsidering the rulesUsing persuasion or arguments based on testimony.Interpreting the comprehensive plan in accordance with legal requirements.Rules of Thumb:Greatest good for the greatest manyBe objectiveConsult codeKeep overall community well-being in mindLegal Basis for Decisions:Federal and state constitutionsState enabling legislation (AS 29)Municipal charterLocal regulationsProcedures in your codeCommission bylaws
23 Types of Commission Decisions Legislative Decisions make or interpret policy. Broad ranging and affect everyone in general and no one in particular.Substantive due process (reasonableness of decision) appliesExamples: recommend to adopt a comprehensive plan, recommend capital improvement priorities, recommend code amendments.Legislative Decisions:Make or interpret policy – larger policy issues.Broad ranging and affect everyone in general, but no one in particular.Apply equally to everyone in the community (or identifiable class of people).Substantive Due Process – reasonableness of decision applies.Examples: Adopting a plan, recommending priorities, recommending code amendments, recommending a rezone.Procedural due process does not apply.Generally includes all “recommendations”, not final decisions.Rely on Assembly as a safety valve.Quasi-Judicial Decisions (or Adjudicative Decisions):Have direct affect on rights and liabilities of a single person or small group.Are made on whether a person has shown they have met all the established requirements that give them a right to permit or other entitlement.Procedural due process – fairness of process applies.Commission determine whether, from all the evidence, required standards are met.Examples: variances, conditional use permits, allowable use permits.Generally includes “final decisions” that impact a single person or small group.Majority of time at meetings spent here.Quasi-Judicial Decisions have direct affect on rights and liabilities of a single person or small group.Procedural due process (fairness of process) appliesExamples: granting zoning variances, issuing conditional use permits, issuing encroachment permits
24 FindingsAre a statement of the evidence and reasoning used by commission to arrive at a decision.Must be supported by facts.Are a “road map” that details the commission’s reasoning process used to progress from evidence to decision.Typically include request description, statement of facts, reasons for approval or denial, and conditions of approval.What are Findings?A statement of the evidence and reasoning used to arrive at a decision.Must be supported by facts.Road map that shows the reasoning process that got the commission from theevidence presented during the public hearing to its final conclusion to grant ordeny applicants requests.Findings Include:Description of RequestStatement of factsReasons for approval or denialConditions of approvalWarning:Overruling (by courts) is due to commission having failed to prepare findings.No findings = automatically void decision if you go to court.No standard for required for decision of findings. Develop consistent method!
25 Findings Should do the Following: Set out the relevant facts from the evidence presented.Relate these facts to the conditions that must be proved, or the standards that must be met.State whether the relevant standard or condition is shown to have been met or not by the identified facts.State whether all the necessary elements have been sufficiently shown. If there was no evidence given to prove one or more of the necessary elements, this lack of necessary evidence must be shown.State whether the permit is granted or denied.What Makes a Good Finding?Identification or parties, property, and the requested. Ensures everyone understandsthe subject under discussion. Frames the issue.List of the witnesses, documents, exhibits relied upon – introduced at meeting only.Identification of standard established by ordinance for the action requested byapplicant. Examples: undue hardship, public safety, exceptional circumstances. Bystating the standards, commission acknowledges it knows the standard (keeps focus).Explanation, fact by fact, why evidence does/does not establish whether standard met.If request is granted, a description of it and any conditions.Findings Tell You:WhoWhatWhenWhereWhyNote: Resolution commonly used to describe the findings, there is no particular formrequired for the decision and findings.
26 The RecordThe Record is a collection of all the evidence presented to the commission during proceedings.Is the foundation upon which the commission’s decision rests.Findings and the record protect the commission from legal challenges and explain commission decisions - even unpopular ones.Is there substantial evidence in the record to support the commission’s findings?The Record:Collection of all the evidence presented to the commission during the proceeding.This is the foundation upon which the commission’s decision rests.Protect commission from legal challenges and explains decisions.Always ask, is there substantial evidence in the record to support findings?In the Case of an Appeal:Court will not step into commission's shoes and make a new decision. Instead, court will ask if there is substantial evidence in the record that supports the commissions findings.“Substantial Evidence” – evidence a reasonable mind would accept assupporting the commission's conclusion.Commission cannot invent nor stretch evidence beyond recognition.Court will defer to findings and the record, even if incorrect or not complete.Unlawful to make decision without supporting evidence!
27 The Record Contains: The application Correspondence between applicant and staffWritten comments submitted by neighbors and other members of publicOral evidence presented at hearingPlats, plans, drawings, photographs, deeds, surveys, and consultant/expert reportsWritten testimonyRecords of mailed or published noticeMunicipal records and other documents submitted during proceedingThe RecordApplicationCorrespondenceWritten CommentsOral evidenceSupporting Documents – plats, plans, drawings, deeds, surveys, reportsWritten TestimonyNoticesRelevant Municipal Records – submitted during proceeding.
28 LEGAL ASPECTS OF COMMISSION CONDUCT US Constitution, 5th Amendment:No person shall… be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law…Due Process:Ensures a person whose rights are at stake in governmental proceedings receives the process that is due them.Substantive Due Process (Reasonableness, Legislative Decisions) – No person maybe deprived life, liberty, or property under circumstances that are unreasonable,arbitrary, or capricious. Limits police power of states and relevant to “takings”.As related to planning: ensuring commissions decision is not arbitrary and capricious.All decisions based on facts. More important to be fair, than right.Procedural Due Process (Fairness, Quasi-Judicial Decisions) - Before any person isdeprived of life, liberty, or property he must be given a fair hearing or an opportunityto be heard and defend against proposed action to be taken against him.As related to planning: notice, fair hearing before commission, well run hearing,record of public process.
29 Ex Parte ContactOccurs when a commissioner has private communications with someone who has an interest in a quasi-judicial matter before the commission.Provides a commissioner with information not available to other commissioners.It can (or is meant to) influence decisions outside public session.Violates “due process” in quasi-judicial matters. To correct ex parte contact:Disclose contact and substance of conversation at meeting. Get the evidence on the record!State whether you can still provide unbiased input.Commissioner – Public Communication:Common and can be beneficial to keep informed with resident opinions.Need to Draw Distinction:Legislative Matters – Contact allowed and is considered “lobbying”.Quai-Judicial Matters – Matters currently before commission or scheduled to gobefore commission. Contact is not allowed, violates “due process”.Ex Parte - Latin for "from or on one side only.Private communication between commissioner and interested party in a quasi-judicial proceeding (variance, conditional use permit, or subdivision approval.Result – Commissioner has unfair access to information that may influence vote.Other parties may not have same access to information. Violates due process.What To Do:Stop conversation and explain – public hearing only! Recommend testify or comment.Correcting Ex Parte Contact:Overcome Fairness Violation – First, disclose contact to commission to get information on record. Second, disclose whether your can be unbiased regarding the matter.
30 Conflict of InterestA person has a conflict of interest when he or she has a substantial financial interest in a matter before the commission.State law does not define the term “substantial financial interest”. Local code of ordinances should define this term.A planning commissioner cannot vote on any matter in which he or she has a substantial financial interest [AS (a)(4)].Commissioners have a duty to make decisions in the best interest of the public w/o influence of personal interests. A personal financial interest is a conflict of interest.AS (a)(4):Municipalities must adopt a conflict of interest ordinance which provides officials or employees may not participate in official action in which s/he has a substantial financial interest.Does not definite “substantial” financial interest – up to municipality (and process).Is an absolute statement for planning commission – no exceptions.Municipal code should verify family relations and conflict standards too.What To Do:Contact AttorneyPublicly declare and abstain from discussion/voting… sometimes leave room altogether.Appearance of Fairness:Not only must hearings be fair, there must not even be an appearance of unfairness; even if no actual unfairness exists, there mere appearance of unfairness must be avoided. This doctrine improves the appearance of the integrity of the PC and decisions.AS (AK Public Officials Disclosure Law – APOC Form)Annually file a statement disclosing financial interests held during preceding year.Key Words: Substantial Interest, Significant Benefit, and Family
31 Municipality of Skagway: Conflict of Interest Conflicts of interest.Any officer or employee shall disqualify himself from participating in any official action in which he has a substantial financial interest.Officers designated.The officers of the city are the six (6) council members, the mayor, the city manager, the city attorney, the city clerk, the city treasurer and the chief of police. The mayor and members of the council shall be elected by direct vote of the electors of the city, in accordance with state statutes. The city manager shall be appointed by the council and may be removed only by the council. All other officers shall be appointed by the city manager, subject to confirmation by the council. Each officer appointed shall hold office until terminated or until his successor is appointed, whichever first occurs. With the exception of the police chief, department heads shall not be regarded as officers of the city for purposes of this section, and shall be appointed and removed at the sole discretion of the city manager.Conflicts of interest.Any officer or employee shall disqualify himself from participating in any official action in which he has a substantial financial interest.Additional Notes:PC members are not listed as officers.Substantial financial interest, benefit, and familial relationships are not defined.This is a general and vague part of code. May want to revise.
32 Open Meetings ActAS (a): All meetings of a governmental body of a public entity are open to the public [with certain exceptions].Ensures public has reasonable opportunity to observe governing decision-making.In general terms, the act requires:Open forum for decision-makingReasonable public notice of meetingsTeleconferencing for public meetingsVoting publicly on the recordExecutive sessionsAS (a)All meetings of a governmental body of a public entity are open to the public [with certain exceptions].Gives public right to observe, but not speak (local ordinance).Requires: Open forum, reasonable public notice, teleconferencing, open voting,and executive session (rules needed).How is the Act Interpreted?Liberally and in favor or openness.Any discussion of public business by majority is a meeting; however, a majority isnot needed to be in violation. For bodies with minimum of 8, a 4 membergathering is a violation."A Meeting" includes every step of decision-making process including informationgathering, deliberations (formal, informal), exchanging ideas, strategizing.Any violations make decisions void.Skagway Maximum:
33 THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN The most common function delegated to a planning commission is preparing the comprehensive plan.Before you enforce land use regulations, it is state law you have a comprehensive plan.
34 What is a Comprehensive Plan? A blueprint for guiding community development.A flexible document, not a uniform template.A visionary document attempting to anticipate future events and needs.A statement of policies, goals, and standards.Comprehensive Plan:Blueprint for guiding developmentFlexible document, not uniform templateVisionary documentStatement of policies, goals, and standards.Most Important - It is a policy document!
35 What is a Comprehensive Plan? (continued) Provides a policy framework for decision-making regarding land use, transportation, housing, public facilities, and economic development.Includes information on the many facets of a community including demographics, physical conditions, land use, environment, transportation, legal matters, and fiscal conditions.Reflects the vision and direction of residents!Comprehensive Plan Contents:Population/DemographicsPhysical ConditionsLand UseEnvironmentTransportationLegal and Fiscal IssuesComprehensive Plan Purpose – Why have a Comp Plan?Fulfills Legal Obligations – needed to implement land use regulation.Provides Vision for Future – long-range goalsDecision-Making Tool – guide for decision-making and blueprint.Coordination – includes wide range of municipal topics.
36 Municipality of Skagway: Comprehensive Plan Planning commission.A. Duties and Functions.1. The planning commission shall … prepare andrecommend to the city council:a. A comprehensive plan consisting of maps and related texts for the systematic development of the city consisting of a compilation of policy statements, goals, standards, and maps for guiding the physical, social and economic development, both private and public, of the city and may include, but is not limited to, the following: a land use plan, a community facilities plan, a transportation plan and recommendations for plan implementation.Additional Notes:This is the reference to a comprehensive plan within the code.It also references AS T as the basis for requiring a comp plan.
37 PLAN IMPLEMENTATIONAS requires certain municipalities implement planning – including all Boroughs – which include:Comprehensive PlanLand Use RegulationHow do communities most effectively implement plans?Land Use Regulation – Must have a Comprehensive Plan to implement.Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Regulation go hand-in-hand in Alaska.What does it look like?
38 Plan Implementation Includes: Zoning regulationsZoning authorizationsSubdivision regulationsAdditional implementation toolsPlan Implementation Includes:Zoning RegulationsZoning AuthorizationsSubdivision RegulationsAdditional Implementation ToolsYou must have a plan to use plan implementation tools.Land Use Regulation:Subdivision OrdinancesZoning – potentially light zoning or pre-zoning.
39 AS Land Use RegulationIn accordance with a comprehensive plan adopted under AS and in order to implement the plan, the assembly by ordinance shall adopt or amend provisions governing the use and occupancy of land that may include, but are not limited to, zoning regulations restricting the use of land and improvements by geographic districts.Alaska Statute ( ) Provides:In accordance with Comprehensive Plan…And in order to implement the Comprehensive Plan…Assembly shall adopt… zoning regulations restricting land use and improvements.Additional Notes:Compared to Lower 48, Alaska relatively flexible.Enforcement nearly non-existent – through the court system via arbitrary andcapricious rulings.Court Case ExamplesPlanning Police = Court System
40 Zoning Regulations Zoning Code Components: Zoning is the conventional method of land use regulation that divides a municipality into districts or zones and adopts regulations concerning land use, placement, and building size, and space.It classifies land according to use (residential, commercial, industrial) and establishes standards governing each use.Zoning Summary:Zoning is an application of the police power to regulate the use of land and the improvements on it for the protection of the public health, welfare, and safety.Land Use or Activity ControlIncludes: land use, density, building bulkLand Uses = Residential, Commercial, Industrial, and AgriculturalSubdivision Ordinances:Regulate the division of tracts of land into building lots and the provision of infrastructure.General Points:Both can specify lot size, shape, and access requirements.Zoning incorporated by reference into subdivision.Platting is what you do to record.Components:1. Map2. Text – permitted, prohibited, conditionally permitted.Zoning Code Components:Map depicting zoning districts including residential, industrial, and commercial.Text indicating permitted, conditionally permitted, and prohibited land uses.
41 The Purpose of ZoningPromotes public safety, health, and general welfare.Segregates incompatible land uses and activities.Protects property values.Regulates property use in accordance with community standards and values.Creates uniform land use regulations.Establishes ground rules for development through public process.Prevents or reduces nuisances.Conserves land for appropriate uses.The Purpose of Zoning:Promote Public Health and Safety – fire access, separate harmful uses.Protect Property Values – eliminate potential for incompatible uses.Create Uniform Regulations – ground rules for developers, local officials, public.Reduce Nuisances – light, glare, dust, color, noise via buffers.Conserve Land for Appropriate Uses – assures availability of limited land supply.Zoning Decision Responsibility:Governing Body - adopts ordinance and has final authority.Planning Commission - recommends districts or boundaries, recommends allchanges, and advises.Board of Adjustment - applications for variances.
42 Zoning Authorizations Zoning ordinance includes:Minimum lot size, lot width/depth, setbacks between structures, maximum building height, max/min lot coverage, and signage.Zoning related authorizations including variances, conditional use permits, planned unit developments, home occupations, accessory uses, and non-conforming uses.Zoning Authorizations (Ordinances): The tools to carry out zoning.Map – depicting zoning districts including residential, commercial, and industrial.Zoning Regulations – permitted, conditionally permitted, and prohibited uses.Zoning Ordinances: set standards for zoning districtsMinimum lot size, minimum lot width and depth, setbacks between structures, maximum building height, maximum/minimum lot coverage, signage.Defines zoning-related authorizations – variances, conditional use permits, planed unity development, home occupations, accessory uses, non-conforming uses.Administrative requirements for zoning authorizations – permits, approvals, appealsZoning Decision Responsibility:Governing Body - adopts ordinance and has final authorityPlanning Commission - recommends districts or boundaries, recommends all changes, and advises.Board of Adjustment - applications for variances
43 Conditional Use Permit Land use not allowed outright in a particular zone, but could be permitted if conditions attached reduce or eliminate negative characteristics making the activity compatible with surrounding allowed uses.Also called “special exceptions” or “special permits”.Example: Church in a residential neighborhood.Municipalities are free to design a conditional use permitting system. Caution: avoid use of vague standards.Rezone: Map AmendmentNo administrative mechanism for map amendment. Rezone using the same processand zoning. Submit application, review, notice, hearing, PC action, GB action.Conditional Use Permit:Conditional use is a use not allowed outright in a particular zone, but could be permitted if conditions attached to the approval make the activity compatible with surrounding, allowed uses.Special Exceptions or Special PermitsA flexible planning tool that allow developers to proceed under restrictions designedto eliminate adverse impacts.State does not specify, municipalities free to design conditional use permittingExample: Church in residential neighborhood.Standards: Should be specific, not vague with standards for meeting regulation.Purpose: Determine how the conditional use project can be made compatible withsurrounding neighborhood.“in keeping with the character of the neighborhood” or “consistent with the character of the uses authorized in the zoning district”
44 VarianceA variance is an exception from the strict terms of the zoning (or platting) code.It is a waiver of the provisions of the zoning ordinance when strict application of the ordinance would cause exceptional, practical difficulties, or undue hardship to the property owner.Property standards are adjusted because the specific location, topography, shape, size, or other environmental features of the lot make it impossible to comply with zoning regulations as written.Variance:An exception from the strict terms of zoning (or platting) code.Allows applicant to depart from standard land use rules.Purpose: to prevent the zoning code from prohibiting reasonable use of a lotbecause of some peculiarity of the lot not affecting other neighboring propertiesMust weigh “unnecessary landowner hardship vs. public interest”. Financialhardship does not qualify!Additional Comments:Used in cases where it is impossible to comply with terms of zoning code andstill make reasonable use of the property.An extraordinary remedy for an extraordinary situation. Allowed to break the law.Must weigh hardships (often physical) against public cost/benefit.State law dictates why a variance cannot be given (GL)…
45 Variances Under AS (b)According to Alaska law, a variance may not be granted if:The special conditions that require the variance are caused by the person seeking the variance.The variance will permit a land use in a district in which that use is prohibited.The variance is sought solely to relieve financial hardship or inconvenience.AS T29 contains explicit prohibitions on the granting of variances.Special conditions caused by person seeking variance.Will permit a prohibited land use in the district.Sough solely to relieve financial hardship or inconvenience.Language usually adopted verbatim in local zoning codes because local governments are bound to prohibitions – except home rule.Two Types of Variances:Use Variance – Permits a use otherwise prohibited. Only HR municipalities may use.Area Variance – Relief from setback, frontage, height, density, and similarrequirements. HR and GL municipalities may use.Applies to GL municipalities only.
46 When Can a Variance be Granted? Variances are granted when some unique condition related to the land (e.g., stream, steep embankment, rock outcrop) makes it impossible to comply with terms of zoning code.Hardship must be linked to feature of land.Applicant required to show neighbors will not be adversely affected by granting a variance.Variances most often granted for relief from setback requirements, building height, or lot coverage.Most zoning ordinances authorize granting variances to relieve “unnecessary hardship”. Courts will generally find hardship exists if the property cannot be put to reasonable use with the zoning regulations.If a zoning regulation deprives owner of all beneficial use of land because of a peculiarity of land itself, the owner is entitled to some relaxation of the regulation.Additional Comments:Avoid public sentiment. It is not a reason to grant or deny a variance.Must be granted when property owner has shown property meets all standards.Variances may not be granted unless all standards for variance have beenproven. Must meet standards – reduction in value is not a hardship.“Hardship” deserving variance must be caused by circumstances unique to theproperty and variance will not harm neighbors.Example: Stream crossing property does not allow any buildable space.If granting a lot of variances, examine zoning code for deficiencies.Need to observe due process.
47 Municipality of Skagway: Variance Summary Variances and conditional use permits.A. Variances.1. The planning commission shall consider and decide applications for variances. No variance shall be granted because of special conditions caused by actions of the person seeking relief, or for reasons of pecuniary hardship or inconvenience; nor shall any variance be granted which would permit a land use in a district in which that land use has been prohibited. Variances are intended to provide a mechanism for the relaxation of such standards as minimum lot or yard requirements, setback, or building coverage, when the applicant shows, and the planning commission finds, that the criteria in subsection 8 below are met.Skagway Code – Variances – Summary:11 Total Provisions (1 – 11) describing requirements and process.Variances and Conditional Use PermitsA. Variances.The planning commission shall consider and decide applications for variances. No variance shall be granted because of special conditions caused by actions of the person seeking relief, or for reasons of pecuniary hardship or inconvenience; nor shall any variance be granted which would permit a land use in a district in which that land use has been prohibited. Variances are intended to provide a mechanism for the relaxation of such standards as minimum lot or yard requirements, setback, or building coverage, when the applicant shows, and the planning commission finds, that the criteria in subsection 8 below are met.2. An application for variance shall be filed in writing and verified by the owner of the property concerned, and shall be accompanied by a fee, in an amount set by the commission by resolution, to cover administrative costs. The application shall contain the following data with respect to the property and the applicant:a. A legal description of the property involved;b. Plot plans showing the location of all existing and proposed buildings or alterations, elevations of such buildings or alterations, and such other data as may be required;
48 Municipality of Skagway: Variance Requirements Variances and conditional use permitsA. Variances.8. The planning commission must find all four (4) of the following conditions to exist to grant the variance:That there are exceptional physical circumstances or conditions applicable to the property or to its intended development which do not apply generally to the other properties in the same zoning district;That the strict application of the provisions of this title would result in practical difficulties or unnecessary hardship. Financial difficulty is not considered a hardship;That the granting of the variance will not result in material damage or prejudice to other properties in the vicinity, nor be detrimental to the public health, safety or welfare; andThat the granting of the variance will not be contrary to the objectives of the comprehensive plan.Skagway Variance RequirementsThe PC must find all of the following conditions exist:There are exceptional physical circumstances or conditions applicable to The property or to its intended development which do not apply generally to the other properties in the same zoning district;b. The strict application of the provisions of this title would result in practical difficulties or unnecessary hardship. Financial difficulty is not considered a hardship;c. That the granting of the variance will not result in material damage or prejudice to other properties in the vicinity, nor be detrimental to the public health, safety or welfare; andd. That the granting of the variance will not be contrary to the objectives of the comprehensive plan.All additional variance code provisions are regarding the process and administrative tasks involved including public notice, timelines, fees, and other city functions.
49 Municipality of Skagway: Conditional Use Summary Variances and conditional use permits.B. Conditional Uses.1. Purpose. A conditional use permit gives site specific flexibility to the zoning ordinance in a uniform and controlled manner. It permits uses that are desirable to the community, but may not be suitable at every location in the zone based on character, intensity, size or impact on surrounding uses. The planning commission may attach restrictions and conditions designed to fit the special problems, which the use presents.Skagway Code – Conditional Uses – Summary:13 Total Provisions (1 – 13) describing requirements and process.Variances and Conditional Use PermitsB. Conditional Uses.Purpose. A conditional use permit gives site specific flexibility to the zoning ordinance in a uniform and controlled manner. It permits uses that are desirable to the community, but may not be suitable at every location in the zone based on character, intensity, size or impact on surrounding uses. The planning commission may attach restrictions and conditions designed to fit the special problems, which the use presents.2. Application for Conditional Use Permits.Submission and Contents. Applicant shall submit to the planning official, one copy of the completed permit application together with all supporting materials and the permit fee. The application shall state the conditional use requested, contain a plot plan indicating date, north arrow, scale, exterior property boundaries and approximate dimensions, location of all existing and proposed buildings on the property and their approximate distance from lot lines, access for ingress and egress, sewer and water lines serving the property and power poles, all easements on the property, construction details, approximate dimension of parking areas and spaces, if applicable, and other information as necessary to illustrate the impact of the proposed conditional use.Filing Fee. Fees cover costs of advertising, notification, and other city burden.
50 Municipality of Skagway: Conditional Use Requirements Variances and conditional use permitsB. Conditional Uses.3. Standards… a majority of the planning commission members after a public hearing, must find in writing that:The requested conditional use will protect the public health, safety, and welfare; andThe requested conditional use will not permanently or substantially injure the lawful use of neighboring properties or uses; andThe requested conditional use will generally be in harmony with the comprehensive plan, coastal management plan, and other officially adopted plans; andThe requested conditional use will not substantially decrease the value of or be out of harmony with property in the neighboring area.Skagway Conditional Use RequirementsVariances and conditional use permits.B. Conditional Uses.3. Standards. The planning commission may require the applicant to submit whatever reasonable evidence may be needed to protect the public interest. The burden of proof rests with the applicant. In considering the granting of any conditional use permit, a majority of the planning commission members, (not merely a majority of the members present) after a public hearing, must find in writing that:The requested conditional use will protect the public health, safety,and welfare; andb. The requested conditional use will not permanently or substantially injure the lawful use of neighboring properties or uses; andc. The requested conditional use will generally be in harmony with the comprehensive plan, coastal management plan, and other officially adopted plans; andd. The requested conditional use will not substantially decrease the value of or be out of harmony with property in the neighboring area.
51 Subdivision Regulations Guides the conversion of land into improved or developed land consistent with technical requirements and community standards.Shapes a community’s character.Subdivision Regulation Ordinance – regulates land division into building lots for the purpose of sale, development, or lease.Specifies procedure when land is subdivided and built upon.Assures land development is appropriately and consistently completed.The 2nd Part of Plan Implementation – or Land Use Regulation.Subdivision (Platting) Ordinance:Process by which a tract of land is split into smaller parcels, lots, or building lots to be sold, developed, or leased (subdivision).Shapes community character.Tools to influence the layout of lots, streets, and coordinate with public utilities.When land is platted, the pattern of physical development is set and irreversible.Assures land development process is accomplished in an appropriate manner.
52 Why Regulate Land Subdivision? To assure newly created lots do not become or do not create unanticipated costs for owners, municipality, or neighbors.Establish street pattern designEstablish consistent street design dimensionsProvide utility easementsProvide water supply and sewage disposalDevelop lot layout and ensure accessReasons to Regulate Land Subdivision:Proper designAdequate UtilitiesConsumer Protection
53 Municipality of Skagway: Subdivisions General provisions.A. Purpose. The purpose of this title is to protect and promote the health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of the city of Skagway. These provisions are minimum requirements, intended to further the orderly layout and use of land, prevent overcrowding, and provide for a permanently wholesome community environment, adequate services, and a circulation system that is safe, efficient and coordinated.Skagway Subdivision Code Summary:Title 20 is all subdivisions (8 pages)Subdivision Procedures and RequirementsVacation of PlatsChapter – Subdivision Procedures and Requirements:General ProvisionsPurpose – See slideSubdivision Defined – tract or parcel of land divided into 2 or more lots.General Requirement – process of submitting preliminary and final plats.Penalties – criminal penalties apply under T29.Structure – PC as platting authority.Preliminary Plat ProcedureFinal Plat ProcedureSubstantive RequirementsSubdivisions Created by Successive DivisionsSmall Subdivisions - WaiverComment – Thorough and traditional code.
54 What is Platting?Platting is a largely technical activity that is fundamentally different than zoning:It establishes standards for subdividing land and places certain requirements on those divisions.It assures lots are created in accordance with community standards and are properly surveyed and recorded.It sets a pattern of physical development that is, for all practical purposes, irreversible.Platting is the recording of land.Platting Purpose:Guide the conversion of vacant land into improved or developed land, consistent with the technical requirements and community standards.Basic intent to assure newly created lots do not become problems, and createunanticipated costs for their owners, the local government, and adjacent lots.Platting:A largely technical activity that is fundamentally different than zoning.Establishes standards for subdividing land and places requirements on divisions.Assures lots created in accordance community standards, are surveyed, recorded.Sets patterns of physical development that is irreversible.Ensures adequate recording of land.Surveying of land to create metes and bounds.Plat:A map of land subject to common development or sales plan that shows the location and boundaries of streets, individual lots/parcels, and other site information.
55 Additional Plan Implementation Tools Municipal Land Management ProgramMunicipal land disposal methodsCapital Improvement ProgramAlaska Coastal Management ProgramStatewide Transportation Improvement ProgramSanitation master plansMunicipal budgetDesign review standardsFloodplain regulationsState and Federal planning programsHistoric preservation standardsEnvironmental impact assessmentsMunicipal Entitlement Program:Municipalities receive land as incentive, revenue source, expand municipal tax base, provide land for community development.Municipal Land Management Program: Acquire, manage, control, use, dispose landCIP: Capital improvement projects by priority, schedule for seeking funding, and construction schedule. Linked back to Comprehensive. Dictates scale and pace of community development. Elements: Overview of process, financial data, projects.ACMP DocumentsStatewide Transportation Improvement ProgramSanitation Master PlansMunicipal BudgetDesign ReviewHistoric Preservation
56 Concluding ThoughtsPlanning is a collective effort between citizens, elected officials, and the planning commission.When an effective and collaborative planning process flourishes in a community, the vision of the citizens, planning commissioners, and elected officials can be achieved.